I Come From Arizona – Review and Parental Guidance

I Come From Arizona is a Children’s Theatre Company World Premiere Original Production directed by Lisa Portes.  It was written by Carlos Murillo, adapted from his original play Augusta and Noble.

I Come From Arizona runs October 8-November 25, 2018 on the Cargill Stage.

In the interest of full disclosure, FFTC received two tickets from CTC for the purpose of review.  All thoughts are my own.

When I asked what she thought of I Come From Arizona, my daughter responded, “That was a passionate show.”  And she was absolutely right.

I Come From Arizona

What does courage look like? When Gabi Castillo, a bright, 14-year-old Mexican-American girl from the South Side of Chicago, is accepted into an elite high school on the North Side, a Global Perspectives class pushes her to uncover secrets about her past and her parents, discover her own inherited strength, and understand what it means to take risks. In today’s world of immigration raids and Dreamers, fear and uncertainty, Gabi inspires a modern-day lesson in bravery, courage, and finding power in what seems like a powerless situation.

Children’s Theatre Company press release

I went to the show knowing full well that this was going to be a heavy-hitting show.  I knew it would incite strong feelings in me, but I had no idea how deep those emotions would be. I Come From Arizona helped me to see the faces of real people.

I Come From Arizona - Children's THeatre Company

Ayssette Muñoz and Sha Cage in I Come From Arizona photo by Dan Norman

“Am I illegal?”

“Gabi, no human can be illegal. You may be undocumented, but you are not illegal.”

I loved so much about this sensational production.

I loved how raw the story was.   Gabi didn’t have a smart phone, she had responsibilities beyond schoolwork, and she loved her family and worried about her parents, her brother and herself.  I loved how stereotypical the liberal and conservative viewpoints started.  You could tell that the characters were just regurgitating what they heard their parents saying.  I loved how friendships were important enough to work through their preconceived notions. I loved Ms. Chan.  So much!  She was my favorite character by far.

“You can’t explain that something is important by saying it’s important.”

I loved how real the fight between Jesus and Gabi was.  I loved the relationship between Gabi and her mom.

I Come From Arizona - Children's Theatre Company

Luca La Hoz Calassara and Ayssette Muñoz in I Come From Arizona photo by Dan Norman1

I loved the staging including the train, the classroom, and the park.  I loved their kitchen. I loved the fear I felt when the door buzzer sounded.  I loved the fact that even though so much of it was spoken in Spanish, we could still follow the conversation.

I left this show quiet.  And I am not a quiet person.  When we got home, I couldn’t answer my husband’s question if I liked it because my heart was so heavy,  but now I know I loved  it.

Show Notes for  I Come From Arizona

Runtime: Approximately 2 hours with a 15-minute intermission

ASL/AD Performance: Friday, November 9 at 7pm

Sensory Friendly Performance: Friday, November 16 at 7pm

Strobe Lights and other lighting effects are used.

Parental Guidance for I Come From Arizona

CTC recommends this show for ages 9 and older.  Originally, 8 years and up was suggested.  While I’m glad they increased the age recommendation, I believe 9 is still too young.  Though there were a lot of young kids watching and not a lot of crying.

 This show is intense and very emotional.  I found myself tearing up often and wishing for a teddy bear to squeeze.  It introduces some mature themes including racism, same sex attraction, undocumented foreigners, and so many more.  It also has some extremely scary scenes.  In the second act, Gabi has powerfully horrifying thoughts running through her head, and we see it all.  In another scene, she has a bone-chilling nightmare. 

I personally recommend this show for middle schoolers and older.  I brought my 6th grader who is almost 12, and she was deeply affected by the performance.  She stated that her younger brothers could not have handled the show well. If you have a highly sensitive person in your family, I would suggest the Sensory Friendly show.

Also, we went through the Audience Resource Guide Children’s Theatre Company provided.  We chose to go through the timeline on our drive, and I’m glad we did.  Though if we hadn’t, we would have still learned a lot from the show.

Final Thoughts on I Come From Arizona

  1.  Expect to enjoy the show and be prepared for your perspective to be “globalized.”
  2. The show is pretty heavy, but there are some light moments throughout.  “The best way to not get an F is to not get an F.”
  3. Use your program to help start a family conversation.

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